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Steven Livesey

OU Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, The University of Oklahoma wordmark
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Steven J. Livesey

Brian E. and Sandra O'Brien Presidential Professor, Emeritus
Department of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

Photographic portrait of Stephen Livesey
  • B.A., History, Stanford University, 1974
  • B.S., Mathematics, Stanford University, 1974
  • M.A., History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1977
  • Ph.D., History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1982

My research focuses on the formation of scientific disciplines and discussions of the nature of science in the middle ages. To that end, I have also investigated the pedagogical practices of late-medieval universities and the tendency to revise texts, especially commentaries on Aristotle and theological works like commentaries on Peter Lombard’s Sentences. My first book assessed these issues in the Sentences commentary by the fourteenth-century Franciscan, John of Reading, while my second focused on commentaries on the Posterior Analytics and the Sentences written by the fifteenth-century Dominican, Antonius de Carlenis. An article on the content of a manuscript in the medieval library of the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Bertin, now Saint-Omer, Bibliothèque municipale 504, appeared recently in Portraits de Maîtres offerts à Olga Weijers. Most of the codex contains the commentary on the Sentences written by Pierre d’Allouagne in 1338-1340, but the volume also includes several academic exercises from the University of Paris around 1340.  In 2017, “Science in the Medieval Christian and Islamic Worlds,” co-authored with Sonja Brentjes (Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte in Berlin) appeared in the Oxford Illustrated History of Science.  The next year, Brent Purkaple and I discussed a manuscript of William of Ockham’s Brevis summa libri Physicorum that I had found in the Saint-Bertin collection [Scriptorium 72(2018)].   In 2020, my catalogue of 90 manuscripts from the Saint-Bertin collection appeared as Science in the Monastery: Texts, Manuscripts and Learning at Saint-Bertin (Brepols). Next year, my essay, “Innovation, Science and its Public Expression: The redefinition of fame and celebrity in medieval intellectual circles,” will be published in a six-volume examination of the cultural history of fame.  My current project addresses two medical works by the early thirteenth-century physician, Gilles of Corbeil.  Because Gilles considered poetry the ideal mnemonic device for teaching, he summarized contemporary knowledge about pulse and urine in Versus de pulsibus and Versus de urinis; over the next four centuries they were transmitted across Europe and acquired several commentaries. To date, I have found more than 300 manuscript copies of the texts, which I plan to assess for their filiation, in preparation for a new edition of the poems.

I have also been interested in creating electronic tools for scholars interested in the medieval scholastic tradition. For several years I have been compiling a bio- and bibliographical database of medieval commentators on Aristotle’s works and Peter Lombard’s Sentences, and I am also the 1330-1360 section chair for a project to revise and augment Friedrich Stegmüller’s Repertorium commentariorum in Sententias Petri Lombardi sponsored by the Société internationale pour l’étude de la philosophie médiévale.

My research has been supported by a number of grants and fellowships. I have received three Fulbright Research Fellowships: at Oxford University (1988-89), the Université de Paris I (Sorbonne) (2005-2006), and the Bibliothèque d’Agglomération de Saint-Omer (2014-2015). With funding from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, I was Directeur de recherche associé at the Sorbonne in 1993-94. Other grants or fellowships have been awarded by the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship Program at St. Louis University, the American Philosophical Society, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Huntington Library, the Neil Ker Memorial Fellowship Program of the British Academy and the Gerda Henkel Stiftung. I have also received $455,000 from the Rockefeller and Andrew W. Mellon Foundations in support of institutional pre- and postdoctoral fellowship programs at OU.

Contact me

Steven J. Livesey
Department of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine
The University of Oklahoma
601 Elm, Room 625
Norman, OK 73019

Office Tel: 1-405-325-2213


Select Publications

Science in the Monastery: Texts, Manuscripts and Learning at Saint-Bertin. Turnhout: Brepols, 2020.
(with Brent Purkaple) Guillelmi de Ockham, Brevis summa libri Physicorum. A Transcription of Saint-Omer, Bibliothèque d’Agglomération, MS 317, 44ra-61vb. ShareOK (2018).
Theology and Science in the Fourteenth Century: Three Questions on the Unity and Subalternation of the Sciences from John of Reading's Commentary on the Sentences. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1989.
Antonius De Carlenis, O.P.: Four Questions on the Subalternation of the Sciences. [Philadelphia]: American Philosophical Society, 1994.
Thomas F. Glick, Steven John Livesey, and Faith Wallis. Medieval Science, Technology, and Medicine: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge, 2005.